On most video game battlefields, the sniper is either a nuisance or a savior, depending on which side of the fight you're on. The life of a sniper isn't an easy one, as he or she relies on stealth, patience and accuracy to get the job done. Rebellion Games' Sniper Elite III serves as a prequel to Sniper Elite v2, as players once again fight as OSS sniper Karl Fairburne, who finds himself in North Africa outlasting the Nazi threat.
Stealth is the name of the game
As you'd expect from a game deemed as a sniper simulator, stealth plays a key role in Sniper Elite III. You'll move from objective to objective taking out anyone that comes across your path using stealth as your main weapon, although there will be times where players need to be more aggressive with their attacks. You'll have a wide variety of weapons at your disposal, which includes your trusty sniper rifle, an assault rifle and a sidearm. In addition, players will be able to choose from a number of explosives and different tools to help complete their objectives.
The game uses several graphical notifications to let the player know how attentive soldiers are to their surroundings. Depending on how stealthily the player moves, soldiers are oblivious to their impending doom. If players aren't careful, soldiers will become suspicious, then become alert and finally start their attack. Similar to most stealth-action titles, going head-to-head with an enemy is ill advised, since your sniper can't absorb much damage before succumbing to injury.
Creating the ultimate sniping machine
Sniper Elite III features a ranking system that allows players to unlock additional gear as they progress. The ranking system takes into account everything you do in both single player and multiplayer modes, giving players the ability to sculpt their ideal sniper no matter what they do in the game.
As your sniper progresses through the game's ranks, additional pieces of customisation will become available for your rifles. These pieces help you fine tune these weapons to suit your play style. Players will also be able to unlock additional assault rifles, sidearms and gear, and even be able to save their load outs, making it easy to select their favourite weapons and tools at any time.
Still a bit rough around the edges
Sniper Elite III certainly feels like a vast improvement over Sniper Elite v2 yet some niggles do remain. Enemy A.I. isn't as intelligent as we would like, even when playing on the highest difficulty. Soldiers will take cover and attempt to flank you if they see the opportunity, but the amount of time they actually engage you is pretty short, as they'll go back to their original patrols if enough time passes.
The story in Sniper Elite III follows the typical "kill all the Nazis because they're evil" storyline, so if you're looking for a deep and interesting story, don't expect much here. As we mentioned earlier, Karl Fairburne will fight his way through various theatres during World War II, although most of the fighting will take place in North Africa. Fairburne must take down General Vahlen, who is a threat to the world thanks to his experimental tank factory. With such an important task, Fairburne doesn't require much help, as he's pretty much a lone wolf for all of the single-player campaign.
Slow-motion kills are still very satisfying
It wouldn't be a Sniper Elite title if there weren't gratuitous amounts of gore when you successfully kill a soldier. After taking your shot, the slow-motion camera will kick in as the game follows your bullet as it travels through numerous parts of a person's body. Once the bullet makes its way through, blood will instantly begin to flow and bones will shatter from the force. This makes the sniper rifle the ideal choice to take out enemies, especially when you consider how anticlimactic killing Nazis with a regular assault rifle or sidearm are by comparaison.
Precision mayhem on the battlefield
Sniper Elite III features both competitive and cooperative multiplayer modes, allowing would-be snipers to decide whether they want to work together or against one another.
For those who want to take on other snipers, the game allows up to 12 players to fight competitively against one another in five game modes: Team Deathmatch, Deathmatch, Team Distance King, Distance King and No Cross. Deathmatch game modes are what you'd expect, as you take on other players in either free-for-all or together as a team. Distance King rewards players with the longest distance kill in total, while No Cross doesn't allow for close-combat kills.
Players who prefer to work together can play online co-op with another sniper across the entire campaign. This makes the Sniper Elite experience even deadlier, as long as your partner has the necessary skills.
Fans of the Sniper Elite series will enjoy well-placed sniper rifle shots over everything else. If newcomers can overlook the cookie cutter storyline and plain enemy A.I., they'll discover an engaging shooter that will satisfy their need for extreme bloody headshots.
GAME's Verdict: 8/10
- Slow-motion sniper kills always feel extremely satisfying
- Ranking system frequently rewards players with new customisation options
- Stealth action feels intuitive
- Enemy A.I. loses interest too quickly
- Uninspiring storyline